Curriculum Database

Application for 2014 University of California Larry L. Sautter Award for
Innovation in Information Technology
February 21, 2014
Project Title: Curriculum Database
University of California, Davis, Health System, School of Medicine & School of
Dan Cotton, Educational Technology & Application Development Manager
UC Davis Health System IT
[email protected] (916) 734-2019
Project Leaders and Team Members
UC Davis has a strong team-based methodology for software development. One of the key
elements leading to the success of this project was the consistent partnering of individual
experts throughout UC Davis Health System Schools of Health.
Project Leadership
 Daniel Cotton, Manager Educational Technology & Application Development
 Judith L. Turgeon, Ph.D.
Information Technology
 Christopher Howse, Development Supervisor
 Sunitha Venteru, Developer
 Benjamin Hee, Developer
 Ann Mansker, Analyst
 Kamika Hughes, Analyst
 Shannon Bryans, QA
Office of Medical Education
 Gurmeet Rai - Chief Administrative Officer, Office of Medical Education
 Ryan Traynham - Director of Curriculum & Educational Technology
 John Drummer - Academic Coordinator
Executive Sponsors
 Michael Minear, Chief Information Officer, UC Davis Health System
 Mark Servis - Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education
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The Curriculum Database version 3 (CDB3) is used to map out all of the requirements, goals,
objectives and course of studies that must be met in order to achieve a degree or certification
from the UCD Schools of Health Science. This tool is one of many that support achieving Liaison
Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation for medical schools. The previous
version could not support the expanded and detailed curriculum definitions and design. This
presented a significant challenge for the software to visually represent the many new elements,
levels and complex relationships of the curriculum. The new CDB3 software’s design was
extremely flexible and dynamic and allowed for any level of data association and visual
representation that exceeded the customers’ expectations.
The Curriculum Database is used by faculty, school administrators and course coordinators to
define the various curriculum elements and the associated multitude of course resources. The
Curriculum Search application is used by staff, students, and faculty to search across and within
the curriculum for various data points and curriculum analysis.
The current version contains the functionality to create elements of the curriculum and put
them into a hierarchical map, and subsequently trace, for example, how a particular course
addresses the acquisition of a specific body of knowledge the student must have in order to
graduate (figure 1). Each curriculum is uniquely identified by the combination of an academic
year, a program (such as School of Medicine) and a degree track (such as MD).
The new version of CDB3 was a key element of the UC Davis School of Medicine’s successful reaccreditation in the spring of 2014.
Project Description
The School of Medicine originally designed and deployed a one dimensional Curriculum
Database in 2006 to allow staff, students and faculty to visualize the elements that comprise
the curriculum and view the various associations of those elements. Facing revised
accreditation standards for the School of Medicine and an entirely different curriculum
structure from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, the School of Medicine Educational
Technology team, along with faculty and staff from the Schools of Health, started designing the
next generation of the Curriculum Database software. The new software design had to be much
more flexible than the previous version to support extensive changes in curriculum design from
year to year and the various educational programs requiring this functionality. The resulting
design has far exceeded expectations on flexibility and usability.
In addition to the broader conceptual mapping, the software allows the creation of “logical
courses” based off of Banner course information used at UC Davis, and adding attributes to
those courses that feed a student information system (such as SOMSIS the student information
system created at the UCDHS) and an on-line course catalog and/or scheduling system (such as
eFlight). These features include defining individual curriculum years, quarters and instruction
periods for each level of student in their curriculum, adding information about faculty and
course details, and scheduling the course offerings.
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 Resources – These are course or session materials uploaded and linked to various course
and curriculum data points. These may include lecture notes, Power Point slides, the
syllabus, and course materials which are linked to items such as sessions, courses,
milestones, graduation competencies, etc.
 Nodes – Nodes are the core elements of the Curriculum Database. Any element within the
curriculum is defined as a node (Graduation competency, milestone, educational objective,
course, session objective, etc.) as linked to one or more other nodes defining a parent/child
relationship for the entire curriculum.
Figure 1 – Example of Curriculum Database Tree
Since most of the curriculum is the same from one year to the next, system administrators can
roll over most of the data from one year to another and make whatever changes they need in
the new curriculum. This has many benefits: it saves time, reduces the opportunity for data
input errors, preserves the history of the requirements for any year and provides flexibility for
dealing with both planned and unexpected change. Currently there are 7 academic years of
Academic Year
Figure 2 – Curriculum Database Statistics
The CDB3 software also supports the uploading and linking of resources to courses and/or
sessions. These resources (PDF, Word, Excel, etc.) are indexed by their content, title, key words
and associated course/session information which is searchable using the Search application.
The Search application allows any staff, student or faculty to query the Curriculum database for
any specific node or resource, such as a specific lecture or presentation. They can start at the
top of the tree, or at any point within it, by specifying the particular nodes they wish to limit or
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narrow their search to. The results will quickly show where in the tree the results lie and all
other node relationships surrounding the item (figure 3). This is of aid to students searching for
lecture notes of a particular lecture as they prepare for exams, or allow a faculty to query and
see where in the course prior to theirs was the subject referenced and in what context.
Additionally, school leadership and administration are provided a comprehensive overview of
the curriculum and quickly view specific subjects or concepts that are presented and discussed.
Figure 3 – Example of Curriculum Search Results
Technology Utilized in the Project
The Curriculum Database and Search applications are completely built with Java Enterprise
Edition 5 (Java EE 5) technologies. Java EE provides seamless integration of persistence,
controller/service, presentation layers, security (authentication and authorization) and a Java
EE certified application server. The following Java EE 5 technologies are being utilized: JPA, EJB,
JSF/ICEfaces, Security and Glassfish; each technology corresponds to a layer or a component
mentioned above.
− Java Persistence API (JPA) provides an object mapping facility that can correlate
conceptualized object models in an enterprise environment and manage relational data
in persistence layer.
− Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) provides services such as transactions, security, messaging
and web services that encapsulates the business logic of an application.
− Java Server Faces (JSF) is a server-side user interface component framework that
provides the wiring of component-generated events to server-side application code.
− Java EE security services provide a robust security mechanism for authentication users
and authorizing access to application functions and associated data.
− Glassfish is a Java EE certified application server that “ties” the above technologies
together allowing developers to concentrate on building functions or features that
satisfy business requirements.
− UCDHS IT uses Eclipse as the primary development tool to build the application. Eclipse
is a one-stop shop that provides fluid development experience in the implementation of
enterprise applications.
− The database backend is using MySQL 5.1.
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UC Davis Health System Curriculum Database Implementation Timeline
November 2011
 Project kick off held with faculty leadership
 Team members defined
 Scope defined
December 2011
 Faculty design and concept of curriculum structure and elements
– June 2012
June 2012
 Initial production version released (versions 3.0 – 3.2)
 Project shared with Office of Medical Education (OME) leadership
September 2012
 Incremental versions released, each adding layers of functionality and
– March 2014
integration with other systems (versions 3.3 – 3.20)
July 2013
 Initial release of CDB3 Search
September 2013
 Software released to OME Course Coordinators
 Next version of CDB3 Search released
October 2013
 Next version of CDB3 Search released
January 2014
 Software released to Faculty & IOR
February 2014
 Software released to Departmental Course Coordinators
March 2014
 Latest versions of CDB3 & CDB3 Search released
Curriculum Database:
Curriculum Search:
Objective Customer Satisfaction Data
“In our January 2014 site visit as part of our accreditation process for the Liaison Committee on
Medical Education (LCME), the survey team identified the school’s comprehensive curriculum
database (CDB) as an institutional strength. One of the standards that we are held to in the
accreditation process is that: “A faculty committee of a medical education program must be
responsible for monitoring the curriculum, including the content taught in each discipline, so
that the program's educational objectives will be achieved. The survey team singled out the
importance of our CDB in facilitating the monitoring of the curriculum content and curriculum
management process.
As examples of this critical role, the CDB supports the work of the Committee on Educational
Policy (CEP) and its subcommittees to enhance horizontal and vertical integration of our fouryear curriculum and to identify content gaps and unplanned redundancies. For this latter point,
the value of the CDB has been particularly noteworthy recently as the CEP begins its work to
map where and how the milestones of our graduation competencies are being addressed and
assessed across the curriculum. For the course directors and individual faculty, the CDB is a
robust tool in searching for specific content in prior and subsequent offerings that relate to the
content of one’s course.
In short, the CDB is comprehensive yet adaptable, is central to our curriculum management
process, and pushes us to ask novel questions about our curriculum.”
Judith L. Turgeon
School of Medicine Faculty, Ph.D.
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“In addition to its role in supporting curricular oversight and governance, the Curriculum
Database also serves as an authoritative source for an on-line course catalog, allowing for the
development of an electronic course scheduling system known as eFlight. eFlight was created
to address a growing need by our students to schedule their elective year of medical school in a
centralized, on-line system, eliminating the need to visit various departmental offices. The
Curriculum Database was designed so the academic departments could retain administrative
control over their individual electives but the Office of Medical Education would have
administrative oversight over the entire catalog. The system feeds enrollment information
directly to the registrar's office, which has dramatically decreased the number of enrollment
errors and last minute scheduling changes.”
Ryan Traynham
Director, Curriculum & Educational Technology
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